The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

The Dogs of Depression: A Guide for Happy People

Friday, 27 February 2015


Hi. I'm Mercedes. I have two broken laptops, three kids, a husband and no time to write, although I try my very best. I like to write stories. I like to write poems. I like to write essays and sometimes they're funny, sometimes they aren't. 

I know how to throw a tomahawk and I wear red corduroys because they make me happy. That's also why I write: I like being happy.
  1. When did you start writing horror?

MMY:  It took quite a while to realize I was a horror writer. I never thought I could write in this genre. I had a mental block about it, because I didn’t truly understand what horror was. I mistakenly thought it was blood and gore, when really it’s about pushing boundaries and making the reader feel. So I have always been writing horror, but only felt enlightened enough to call it horror within the past five years or so.

  1. Have you written in any other genre?

MMY: I also write magical realism and nonfiction. Most of my work tends to be slanted toward the beautiful and melancholy. There’s darkness in almost all of it, but that’s how I see life. It’s scary and tragic and absolutely wonderful. Writing about the things that hurt us is a natural process for me.

  1. What makes you uncomfortable?

MMY: Things that hit too close to home. Things that could really happen. I’m more terrified reading some psychological fiction about the sick twist next door than I am reading about ghosts. Graphic rape definitely makes me uncomfortable. I don’t need to read that part. “S/he was victimized” is enough for me. I don’t need all of the horrible details. Much of this comes from working in a sex offender home for a while and being forced to read the client’s files. I can never erase certain things from my mind, no matter how I try.

  1. Does your family read your work?

MMY: My father reads pretty much everything I write, and I love that about him. He even gives my books and magazines to his buddies at work. My mother, not so much.  My husband listens when I read to him on long car drives when he’s a captive audience. But not of his own choice, no. 

To read me is to love me, and my family obviously doesn’t love me. ;) 

Ha, I’m kidding. But they are a sensitive, light lot and I’m so lucky to have them. It’s a joy to be surrounded by such positive people.

  1. Does your writing make you uneasy?

MMY: My writing occasionally does make me uneasy, yes! Sometimes I’ll delve into something exceptionally dark. My latest novella, called Little Dead Red, goes into some pretty frightening, realistic areas, and it was difficult to write. But there’s power in that, in facing something that makes you squirm a little. It forces you to push through some of the things you usually gloss over and come out the other side with something real and raw. It’s opening a bloody wound and examining it. Uncomfortable, yes, but also honest.

  1. Who would you say you write like?

MMY: I would say that I write very much like myself. But I’ve been compared to Neil Gaiman, Aimee Bender, Roald Dahl, Joe Hill, and Clive Barker. If that isn’t a delightfully eclectic list, I don’t know what is. I’ll take these comparisons gladly.

  1. Who are your favourite authors?

MMY: I love everything I’ve ever read by Kirsty Logan. She has such a lovely style. I adore Aimee Bender and her magical realism. Todd Keisling has some strong work out, and I like what I’ve read from Joe Hill. Lee Thompson is always a favorite. I haven’t been disappointed by that man yet, and his literary output is phenomenal. 

  1. Who influences you as a writer?

MMY: I think I tend to be inspired more than influenced. I’ll see that somebody has put out a new book and I think, “Wow! They really put their nose to the grindstone. I need to do that.” My literary voice is my voice and it isn’t really based on anybody else. I finally got out of my own way and allowed myself to write like Mercedes, instead of thinking that I had to try and write like Somebody Important.

9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read?

MMY: The one that I really remember was Stephen King’s IT. Dad had borrowed it from the library. It was in a big basket next to the chair in the living room. I’d sneak out at night and read it, and it was terrifying. It really left a big impression on me. I was absolutely terrified to walk to school and pass the storm drain. I’m sure there were others first, but that’s the one that basically traumatized me.

  1. How old were you? 

MMY: I’d say I was about eight years old or so. Old enough to understand the situations mentioned and young enough to have an astronomically wild imagination. 

11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author?

MMY:  I’ll explore any subject that I deem necessary for the work, but I’ve chosen not to go into great detail concerning some. You won’t see that graphic rape scene from me that we discussed earlier. I try to treat tender subjects with respect. Although this is a work of fiction, somebody out there lived through some of the experiences that I’m discussing. I want to handle it as delicately as I can for them.

12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer?

MMY: There were two wonderful pieces of advice that have impacted my life. The first was by Mort Castle, who is an exceptionally wise and kind man. He told me to release myself from the clock, that writing will always be there and the window of opportunity doesn’t close forever. I was in tears when he told me that. I felt I had to dedicate every spare resource to writing and I was falling miserably behind. Writing is part of life, not life itself. Real life will pass us by.

The other piece of advice came from fellow writer Ray Veen. He told me to celebrate every victory. Instead of getting a partial request and then hoping for a full request, just celebrate that partial. Savor it. This advice has made the process so much more enjoyrable.

13If you had to start all over again, what would you do different?

MMY: I don’t know that I would do anything different. This path has been uniquely mine. Perhaps I would have felt more confident in myself and sent manuscripts out a bit earlier, but I don’t know if I was ready for it. I was dealing with a very sick child and lived out of a Go-Bag in the ER. I’m learning something new every single day.  Right now I’m learning more about the business aspect of writing instead of focusing solely on craft. I’m taking the right meandering pace for me.

14How many books do you read a year?

MMY: I shoot for 52 books, which is a book a week. I usually make it or come close, but I still feel guilty. I wish I could read all day every day! I find that I choose mostly nonfiction books, and they take a bit longer to go through. This doesn’t count the short stories and the manuscripts from friends that I read. So 52 is my goal, and someday I hope to do more.

15.  Do you write every day?

MMY: I’m definitely working every day, that’s for sure. I might not be putting new words down, but I’m creating or marketing or doing something to move forward. In a perfect world, I would write every day! Perhaps when the kids are older and aren’t all sitting on my lap at the same time. 

Website: A Broken Laptop

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